Wednesday, December 19, 2012

99 Red Balloons

There are moments in your life that happen and are uniquely profound in the simplicity of the moment. Images that strike you as so beautiful without reason that is almost hurts. Things that should mean nothing at all but still touch you to the very center of your soul. Nothingness that is all consuming.

If you have ever seen the movie American Beauty there is a scene where the weird neighbor kid is showing the girl next door a video he shot of a plastic grocery bag caught in a little whirl wind. The video is just nothing but watching this bag dance on the wind, skipping across the ground before leaping into the air once more in this graceful ballet.

The kid pontificates about the beauty in the moment. He goes on and on about how it just caught his eye and he couldn't help but watch it. He goes on and on about this bag for what seems like forever. At first I was inclined to think it was just another example of how strange the kid was, but as I watched it I realized that he was right. As weird as he was, what he was saying was true.
One day a few years ago I cam home after a fairly good sized storm had rolled through. As I glanced out my back window I noticed that among the damp brown and gray muck of my yard was a single bright red balloon bouncing about from puddle to puddle. 

I stood in my kitchen for a long moment watching as it skipped along the ground. It was so brilliant in comparison to its bland surroundings that I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

As I watched it I began to think of what a grand adventure that balloon must be on. I wondered where it had been and what things it had seen. Had it started out as part of a childs birthday party or some other festive celebration. Perhaps it had been part of a promotional offer from a local store. Mayhaps it had even made its way from the tiny amusement park just down the road from our house.

Now it was free to sail on the winds of the storm and see so much more. My yard had to be one of many stops the balloon had made. It might just be taking a pleasant rest from its journeys before setting off on another adventure. There was the whole world for it to see, one puddle filled yard at a time. Who knew where it would go next. 

I suppose I could have easily thought of it as nothing more than something sad and lost. Some bit of joy a child had carelessly let slip away or something discarded after its brief bout of usefulness. I could have looked at it as nothing more than garbage that had sailed into my yard on the wings of the storm.

Only none of those things ever occurred to me.

I ran out into the muddy yard with my camera and stood under the dripping trees snapping picture after picture of the balloon as it splashed through the puddles. It stayed just long enough to let me take its picture before the wind swooped in and plucked it up into the sky again.

It danced above my head for just one moment as though it was thanking me for the use of my puddles and to wish me farewell before it went off into the uncertain future in search of adventure.

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